WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Much of rural West Virginia suffers from little or no high-speed internet access.
“Which does hamper the job growth and the ability to grow a new economy,” West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.
Capito, along with Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, have together introduced the E-BRIDGE Act, to provide federal grants to public-private efforts to expand broadband.
“If you don’t have internet service, if you don’t have connectivity today in the 21st century, we’re not going to be able to compete,” Manchin said.
The money would come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and would help bring broadband to underserved areas and distressed communities.
“To be able to work together in different partnerships, to be able to use those dollars to deploy in rural America a much-needed broadband availability,” Capito said.
Capito says companies need government support to develop high-speed broadband networks outside of big cities.
“It’s not affordable for the companies to build out and it’s not affordable for citizens to take up because it’s too expensive to get to some of these areas because of the lack of density,” Capito said.
Manchin says the COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the need to find a way to get this funding where it is needed.
“People now are getting their necessities off the internet… Whether it be their food staples or the medical staples they need, or basically everyday life,” Manchin said.
Both Capito and Manchin believe this will help get all of West Virginia online and could help other rural areas of the country, as well.